Recognizing Social Exhaustion
Are you feeling like your social battery is drained more easily lately?
Do you require more time to yourself than ever before to fill up your tank following a social gathering?
Does small talk feel like it completely drains you now?
Social fatigue can make you feel tired, dull, and irritated. Here is a list of red flags that may help you recognize social fatigue:
- Being snippy or short-tempered with others
- Shutting down from conversation
- Being distracted or zoning out during conversation
- Getting easily irritated or annoyed with others
- Feeling shame
Many of us may be noticing more social fatigue than typical and feeling quite frustrated that you can’t interact in the same way you used to in years past. You might be feeding yourself the narrative that you’ve changed with the pandemic, and not for the better.
“What happened to me? I used to be way more fun!”
“I am so antisocial now”
“Why am I like this?
Ahhh! The oh-so-relatable inner-critic coming in to add fuel to the fire to make you feel shame on top of already feeling social exhaustion. Let’s silence that inner-critic by understanding the “why”.
Why has the pandemic drained my social battery?
- The pandemic has altered our method of interacting.
With communication having moved virtually, we began to interact with one another differently and our energy levels for social interaction thus altered as well. We are now engaging in much less small talk and in-person conversation, so when we do, it feels very effortful because we do not often get to utilize those skills. Social skills are a skill- they need practice.
- Loneliness can lead individuals to withdraw.
Feelings of loneliness are often accompanied with shame. Thus, individuals who feel lonely may isolate rather than pull towards others due to worry of belonging (i.e. “No one would even notice if I was there anyways”). With the immense loneliness that accompanied the global lockdown and the human urge to self-protect, it is understandable that you may still be getting used to reaching out to others.
- Overcompensating for lost time.
You may be over-scheduling yourself to compensate for time you lost with loved ones during the lockdown, further leading to social exhaustion.
- Increased awareness.
Before the lockdown, we used to regularly accept exhaustion to a certain level and de-prioritize our personal health. The pandemic has brought with it a second wave that is emphasizing the importance of individual needs, therefore allowing us to recognize our social exhaustion. That said, you may not necessarily have less social capacity, but just be more aware of your need to recharge.
Here is how you can support yourself in the face of social fatigue:
- Identify your main triggers. Where are you feeling most drained? With family? In the office? While you are obligated to speak in a presentation? In large group events? Once you can identify which settings make you feel most socially fatigued, you can plan accordingly. Maybe that means you schedule a day to relax following a big day of socializing.
- Let go of the labels (introvert vs. extrovert). As human beings, we are so eager to make sense of things that we often categorize things into boxes; right or wrong, black or white, introverted or extroverted. We live in a society that values extroversion as the standard of being and undervalues introversion and alone time. However, the reality is we are all human beings on a social spectrum. Some of us need more time to reset than others and that is okay. Needing down time to yourself DOES NOT make you antisocial.
- Schedule alone time. Put “me time” in your calendar. Make it just as important as that morning meeting of yours. Need some help unwinding? Join me for a simple 5-minute guided meditation. (Click here to bookmark the video on Instagram and have it with you anywhere)
- Master the art of the “drop-in”. Make an appearance for part of the social event rather than the entirety of it. A white lie to help you leave is okay if it’s protecting your mental health. For example, “I have to be up early tomorrow so I need to be home by xx to get a good night’s rest.”
- Set boundaries. Your time and energy is valuable. Setting boundaries sounds so simple yet it can be quite challenging to execute if you’re not accustomed to doing so. Here are some tips for How to Set Boundaries and Say No, and for Effective Communication. Learning to say “no” is really about protecting what you want to say “yes” to.
- Gradual exposure. Don’t dive in head first and fill up your entire calendar, start by doing 1 or 2 things a week and slowly get used to interacting with others more frequently.
You’re worth it. Remember, just because you are socially exhausted does not mean you are unhappy around the people you care about. You just need to fill your personal cup!
And if you’re looking for a little extra support, we’re always here to help! Even if you’ve never tried therapy before, there’s many ways to use a single session to talk through your stressors and can be just the boost you need! Get in touch with Our Care Team to get your personalized therapist recommendation.